Originally published December 13, 2013 at 2:12 p.m., updated December 13, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
A man acquitted in a retrial this month in the 1998 stabbing death of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe of Escondido was released from custody Friday to begin a brief stint on parole.
Richard Raymond Tuite, 44, was discharged from county jail in San Diego in the early afternoon, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Due to the lengthy amount of time Tuite was in custody in the case, he will spend only 10 days on parole, the maximum allowed by law, CDCR spokesman Bill Sessa said.
Last Friday, a jury found Tuite — a schizophrenic with a long history of homelessness, arrests and prison stints — not guilty of voluntary manslaughter following a second trial on charges of killing the girl as she lay in bed in her family home.
He had been convicted of the same charge in 2004, but a federal appeals court ruled in 2011 that he didn't get a fair trial because a judge had limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.
Tuite's original sentence in the case was 13 years in prison for manslaughter and four years, four months for briefly escaping from custody at the downtown courthouse and offering a deputy $24,000 to help him get away in February 2004.
Upon Tuite's release, a parole agent took custody of him for transportation to an undisclosed location outside the San Diego area, where he will serve out his supervised release term.
Corrections officials decided on parole instead of county probation because it would allow for maximum scrutiny and counseling of the ex-inmate, Sessa said.
The spokesman said he could not reveal where Tuite would spend the supervisory period.
"Parolees have a right to privacy just like any other citizens do," he said.
Though the former inmate will be free to go where he likes upon termination of his parole, he still will have to register with local authorities as a sex offender for life due to a conviction for lewdly harassing a minor 15 years ago.
Before Tuite was prosecuted in connection with Stephanie's death, her older brother, Michael, and two of his friends, Aaron Houser and Joshua Treadway, were accused of committing the murder, and police extracted confessions from two of them.
The admissions by Michael Crowe and Treadway, along with potentially incriminating statements by Houser, ultimately were ruled to have been coerced by police under harsh interrogation tactics, and the case against them was dismissed. During Tuite's retrial this year, the three testified that they had no involvement in the girl's violent death.
Stephanie's body was found sprawled in the doorway of her bedroom by her grandmother early on the morning of Jan. 21, 1998. She had been stabbed nine times.
Tuite, a drifter known to North County authorities, had been in the area of the Crowe residence the night the seventh-grader was killed, agitated and looking for woman named Tracy. During his trials in the case, prosecutors contended that he had wandered into the victim's home and attacked her.
Investigators, however, found no physical evidence directly linking him to the crime scene. Concluding that Tuite had been too mentally ill and impaired by drug abuse to have been able to get into the Crowe's home undetected, kill the girl quietly and flee without leaving any clues behind, police initially focused their suspicions on the three boys.
Analysts later found the victim's blood on two shirts that Tuite had been wearing on the day of the murder. Jurors who voted to acquit Tuite said they believed a defense theory of "contamination," in which blood from the crime scene somehow wound up transferred onto Tuite's clothing.